The Way We Get By: Rob Corddry on Arthur

The comedian and actor, whose new film Bad Therapy hits VOD April 17, on the Dudley Moore classic, his all-time favorite movie.

Most of us are sequestered in our homes, doing our part to slow the spread of COVID-19. That includes some of our favorite artists, so we’re asking them to tell us about one thing — a book, a movie, a record, whatever — that’s helping them get through this difficult time.

As a guy who only ever acts in comedies, I strangely never watch comedies. (At the moment, my wife and I are watching The Stranger, which we’re really into.) But since my kids don’t have to get up so early at the moment, we’ve been taking them on a tour of American film. I looked up a list of the 100 greatest films of all time, and there’s not a bad film on it, but there’s also not a lot of comedies. So, it was my absolute honor and delight to introduce my children to my favorite movie in the world, Arthur, the Dudley Moore classic from 1981. And it went over beautifully! He’s drunk all the time, and kids think that’s hilarious.

I first saw Arthur when I was pretty young. I wasn’t able to see it in the theater, but I caught it when it started its epic run playing on an endless loop on HBO back in the ’80s. I would watch it all the time. When I was in high school, I probably saw it 50 times, and then during and after college in New York in the early ’90s, my friends and I would always watch it on a loop (that and Twin Peaks were in heavy rotation), and I maybe saw it another 100 times. Since getting married, I’ve seen it probably once a year. Five or six years ago, my wife bought me a DVD copy because she likes to watch me watch it. So, in total, I’d say I’ve now seen it 177 times. And that’s scientific!

I know every single word of Arthur by heart, and I feel like I’m sitting with an old friend when I’m watching it. I also do a pretty spot-on impression of Dudley Moore as Arthur. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be worth my salt! To me, the film is a perfectly written comedy, and Dudley Moore’s performance is Oscar-worthy. He plays it so honestly; even as a way-over-the-top drunk, he fully commits to the role and you believe every second of it. The story itself is also incredibly heartwarming; against all odds and with massive stakes – and literally a ticking clock and everything in the world against him – he prevails. The whole time, we’re pulling for Arthur because he’s a really just an oversized child. And, let’s be honest, an alcoholic. And he wins! In the end, he triumphs and I defy anyone to watch that movie and not feel great.

Some people weren’t crazy about the 2011 Arthur remake, and I understand that reaction. (People feel that way about remakes; the poor women of the Ghostbusters remake come to mind, who were tarred and feathered.) I did not see the film myself, so I can’t comment on it personally, but to me, a good story is a good story, and it was so well cast. If you’re going to remake Arthur, there’s no one better than Russell Brand to play the title role. I actually auditioned to play Bitterman, his driver: “Drive through the park, Bitterman. You know how I love the park.”

I really hope my kids loved Arthur enough that it will become a family tradition, because they often want to watch their favorite movies over and over again. But whether or not it makes it onto their repeat playlist, I will always watch it with them when they want to see it.

During the lockdown, we’ve been taking our kids on a cinematic journey. We watched Gremlins a couple nights ago; I have a 13-year-old and 11-year-old, and I love that they loved that. As that went down so well, next I’m going to take my 13-year-old daughter to what I’m calling “Horror Movie School.” She’s ready. Or at least she says she’s ready. I have a list of about 25 movies, in order of what she’ll be able to see and when. I’ve really put a lot of work into it!

Image of Rob Corddry by Federico Vargas.

Four-time Emmy award-winning actor, producer and comedian Rob Corddry is currently co-starring opposite Malin Åkerman, Erinn Hayes, Bria Samoné Henderson, Ryan Hansen and Jerry O’Connell in the comedy The Donor Party. He is best known for his work on Adult Swim’s satirical comedy series Childrens Hospital, which he created, executive produced, and starred in. In 2016, Corddry won his first-ever acting Emmy award for his role as the misfit-clown Dr. Blake Downs in the series. Between 2015 and 2019, Corddry starred as Joe Krutel in the hit HBO series Ballers, opposite Dwayne Johnson, and in 2019 he played Forrest on the CBS sitcom The Unicorn. From 2002 to 2006, Corddry was a correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Corddry’s numerous film credits including Hot Tub Time Machine and Hot Tub Time Machine 2, Office Christmas Party, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Sex Tape, Warm Bodies and The Heartbreak Kid. Originally from Weymouth, Massachusetts, Corddry studied and taught improv at the Upright Citizens Brigade in New York City. He resides in Los Angeles with his wife and two daughters. (Image by Federico Vargas.)